Anzac Day 2021: Military history: a quick guide to online resources

Updated 22 April 2021

PDF version [356KB]

Dr Nathan Church (updated by David Watt)
Foreign Affairs Defence and Security Section

The purpose of this quick guide is to provide parliamentarians and their staff with helpful resources for researching various aspects of Australian military history. The 2021 iteration of this document has some minor updates and links have been checked.


Online military history resources

The Australian War Memorial (AWM)

The AWM website provides an extensive amount of military history resources, including:

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)

DVA offers a variety of resources, ranging from lists of anniversaries and commemorative events, nominal rolls for the Second World War, Korea and Vietnam. A preliminary Gulf War nominal roll is now available. The DVA website also hosts information about Commonwealth War Graves and the Office of Australian War Graves.

The DVA website also contains a research tips guide and a large number of media backgrounder fact sheets on various aspects of Australia’s military history, including involvement in wars and conflicts, commemorations and related themes.

DVA has also published the following reference websites Gallipoli and the Anzacs, Australians on the Western Front 1914–1918, Australia’s War 1939–1945, Australia’s involvement in the Korean War and Australia and the Vietnam War.

The National Archives of Australia (NAA)

The NAA website contains an array of primary source military history documents and thematic fact sheets. These include service records, administrative records, internment records and national service records. The NAA guide to researching war service provides useful information, as well as a link to the RecordSearch database. The 376,000 First World War service records have been digitised in their entirety, following the three-year ‘Gift to the Nation’ digitisation project. Digitisation of other records remains ongoing.

On 3 October 2019 the NAA announced that the Australian Government had provided funding to enable the digitisation of service records from the Second World War. The announcement stated that the work would take place across four years but also noted that some 200,000 records are already available. Archives are currently working on digitising the Army Citizens Military Forces records

The NAA has also created the Discovering Anzacs website, featuring profiles of Australian military personnel, an image gallery and a mapping tool highlighting the places of birth and enlistment of those who served in the Boer War and First World War.

The AIF Project

This is a database coordinated by academic historian Peter Dennis and hosted by UNSW at ADSFA which allows the searching of Australian First World War personnel by name, service number or location of birth/place of residence upon enlistment.

The National Library of Australia’s Trove website

As a result of the National Library’s newspaper digitisation program it is possible to search more than 1,000 different newspapers across all states and territories have been digitised, spanning the early 1800s to the mid-20th century. These newspapers are keyword-searchable and provide substantial media coverage of the war front and the home front during the First and Second World Wars.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography

This website contains searchable biographic articles of notable personalities, including those involved in the military. It is an initiative of the National Centre of Biography at the Australian National University.


The Parliament of Australia ParlInfo database enables keyword searching across House of Representatives and Senate Hansard, committee reports and proceedings and Bills debated within the Parliament. This database is useful for identifying the parliamentary proceedings during times of conflict.

Parliamentary Library resources

100 years of the Royal Australian Air Force (April 2021)

The extraordinary story of Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean VC (April 2021)

Anzac Day traditions and rituals (updated April 2021)

Gallipoli: a quick guide to frequently asked questions and general information (updated April 2020)

Political attitudes to conscription: 1914–1918 (27 October 2016)

Commonwealth Members of Parliament who have served in war: the Second World War (9 September 2016)

Anzac Day 2016 (15 April 2016)

Our life goes on the same: the Great War at home’, lecture delivered by Professor Peter Stanley (11 November 2015)

Commonwealth Members of Parliament who have served in war: colonial wars and the First World War (19 September 2014)

‘A small navy in a Great War’, lecture delivered by David Stevens (audio, video and published extract) (27 August 2014)

Index of Victoria Cross recipients by electorate (updated November 2016)

To the last man’—Australia’s entry to war in 1914 (31 July 2014)

‘Going to war 1914–18: the view from the Australian Parliament’, lecture delivered by Professor Joan Beaumont (19 March 2014)

Thematic topics

Honours and awards

The Department of Defence website contains information regarding the different types of Australian and Imperial military awards. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s It’s an Honour website provides further details on Australian honours, including the ability to search by an individual or a specific award or medal.

Australia’s defence force services

The Australian Army History Unit website contains primary source materials regarding the Australian Army forces’ contribution to conflicts spanning pre-Federation to Vietnam, support to peacekeeping operations and information regarding unit histories and formations.

The Royal Australian Air Force website contains overview information of the RAAF’s contribution to Australian military operations. The history of the RAAF is also described, including a list of famous RAAF personnel. The RAAF website also gives information regarding the traditions of the red poppy, the last post, the dawn service and Remembrance Day.

The Royal Australian Navy website contains reference material regarding the histories of various ships, submarines and naval bases, customs, traditions and navy personnel.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service

The Australian War Memorial website contains an overview of the history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service.

The Department of Veterans Affairs also has information for and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Historian Philippa Scarlett has published Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF: the Indigenous response to World War One (4th edn, Macquarie, ACT,  Indigenous Histories, 2018) and provides updates to the book on the website Indigenous Histories. The book and the website are part of an ongoing effort to identify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who served and, where possible, to provide information about those people.

In May 2014, the Indigenous Liaison Officer for the AWM, Gary Oakley, delivered the lecture ‘Aboriginals in the First Australian Imperial Force, a Secret History’, as part of the Parliamentary Library’s series Parliament, War and Empire. This lecture can be downloaded as an MP3 file, with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation and slide notes.

The Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies website has a section Serving their country which provides access to information about the history of Indigenous service.

Soldier settlement

The Year Book Australia 1925, published on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, contains an overview of the soldier settlement schemes across Australia.

The Public Records of Victoria website, Battle to Farm, holds the digitised records for soldier settlers in Victoria from 1919 to 1935.

A Land Fit for Heroes? is a history of soldier settlement in New South Wales from 1916 to 1939, developed by the Australian Research Council, Monash University, the University of New England, DVA and State Records NSW.

The Queensland State Archives has published a Research guide to soldier settlement records at Queensland State Archives.

The South Australian State Archives holds records relating to soldier settlement in that state.

Information about soldier settlement in Tasmania can be accessed through the Libraries Tasmania website.


For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.

© Commonwealth of Australia

Creative commons logo

Creative Commons

With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and to the extent that copyright subsists in a third party, this publication, its logo and front page design are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence.

In essence, you are free to copy and communicate this work in its current form for all non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to the author and abide by the other licence terms. The work cannot be adapted or modified in any way. Content from this publication should be attributed in the following way: Author(s), Title of publication, Series Name and No, Publisher, Date.

To the extent that copyright subsists in third party quotes it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.

Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of the publication are welcome to

This work has been prepared to support the work of the Australian Parliament using information available at the time of production. The views expressed do not reflect an official position of the Parliamentary Library, nor do they constitute professional legal opinion.

Any concerns or complaints should be directed to the Parliamentary Librarian. Parliamentary Library staff are available to discuss the contents of publications with Senators and Members and their staff. To access this service, clients may contact the author or the Library‘s Central Entry Point for referral.